Beets in Grande Ronde: Small Production Pocket in Northeastern Oregon Produces High Sugars But Wrestles Aphanomyces
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Nearly all shareholders of Snake River Sugar Company — the parent cooperative of Amalgamated Sugar Company — farm in the Magic Valley of south central Idaho or the Treasure Valley of western Idaho/eastern Oregon. There are two exceptions. One is the Horse Heaven Hills area adjacent to the Columbia River in southern Washington, where three farming operations currently produce about 2,000 acres of sugarbeets. The other is in northeastern Oregon’s Grande Ronde Valley, where eight Amalgamated shareholders raise another 2,000 acres of beets each year.
The 2011 sugarbeet harvest marked the second year of an innovative — and successful — beet loading and storage project involving growers and staff of Michigan Sugar Company. In this project, which has been conducted in the co-op’s Sandusky and Bay City, Mich., and Dover, Ont., districts, participating growers dump their harvested beets on field edges. A Ropa ‘Maus’ machine cleans the beets before they are loaded into trucks and transported to the piling station. There, a “stacker” conveyor places the already-cleaned beets into standard long-term storage piles. The stacker is essentially a standard beet piler on which the grab-roll cleaning bed and dirt belt system have been bypassed or removed.
Editor & General Manager of The Sugarbeet Grower